Eng Takes Win in GTLM when Foley Runs out of Fuel
By Mark Robinson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Scott Andrews respected the bumps of Sebring International Raceway – even the virtual ones – and it led to the Australian winning the opening round of the 2021 IMSA iRacing Pro Series Presented by SimCraft on Thursday night. Meanwhile, Philipp Eng benefited from the fuel misfortune of Robby Foley to capture first place in GT Le Mans (GTLM), in the first multiclass IMSA iRacing professional race.
Andrews, driving the No. 74 Dallara P217 for Riley Motorsports/R8G eSports, claimed the overall and Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) victory by 10.867 seconds over Daniel Morad in the No. 70 Alegra Motorsports/Moradness eSport Dallara. Richard Heistand finished third in the No. 39 CarBahn with Peregrine Racing/GazX Racing Team entry.
In GTLM, Eng battled back after falling to fifth place early in the one-hour race to win in the No. 89 BMW Team RLL/BMW Team USA BMW. He inherited the lead on the final lap when Foley (No. 96 Turner Motorsport/BS+ TURNER BMW) ran out of fuel.
Eng crossed the finish line four seconds ahead of teammate and defending iRacing Pro Series champion Bruno Spengler in the No. 7 BMW. Nick Tandy brought the No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette home in third.
It’s the second straight IMSA iRacing win for Andrews, who took honors in the Pro Series Preseason Invitational in January that featured only LMP2 entries. Despite the sizable margin of his victory Thursday, Andrews said, “It’s never easy.” He credited developing a virtual setup with an engineer he worked with in the real-life 2020 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts for Thursday’s success. It was in November when Andrews made his first Daytona Prototype international (DPi) start with JDC-Miller MotorSports.
“Everything just fell into place,” said Andrews, who started on pole and wasn’t seriously challenged. “I actually worked on the setup before I got here with one of my old engineers from JDC, who worked on the DPi last year when I debuted in that last year at Sebring. We came up with something pretty good and it was reasonably easy to drive, and it turned out to be quick enough.
“We were just working on the compliance over the bumps. We found a fair bit that we would work on with the shocks to get over the bumps pretty good and not lose too much platform.”
Eng started third in GTLM but dropped to fifth on the first lap. He’d driven his way back to second place and appeared destined for the runner-up finish until Foley’s car faltered as the white flag waved.
“I’m really sorry for Robby, he drove a fantastic race,” said Eng. “I just kept it cool in the beginning; I tried to save some fuel, save my tires. We had a great team in the background. Elias, my ghost engineer, was spot on with the strategy. Very happy to be winning the opening race and thanks to IMSA and to (iRacing) for hosting this cool event.”
Eng, who also won over a world-class field in the 2013 iRacing Pro Race of Champions, said the competition in virtual racing mirrors that of the real world.
“Everybody’s racing, everybody’s pushing a lot, but on the other hand everybody’s very fair,” he said. “That’s what racing should all be about.”
He’s also eager to continue in the upcoming rounds of the iRacing Pro Series. The next race is April 22 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, with the final on May 6 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Both events will stream live on iRacing’s YouTube and Facebook channels.
“I’m so keen on being back,” Eng said. “I put in a lot of practice before this event and I’m sure the practice will only become more and more. It’s all about practice in sim racing and getting those little tricks here and there.”